Thank you to Larry Holmes for sharing this story…
I have been an ordained pastor for about twenty years. Some of you may remember me as that young vicar that worked here with PD during my third year in seminary in ‘96.
About two years ago Ilene and I returned to Good Shepherd after I retired. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was during the season of Advent in 2017. We walked in that first Sunday and set somewhere in the middle of your new worship space. After greeting the Lord, we began to look around and see how many old friends we could recognize. My eyes strayed to the altar, and then the baptismal font and the banner standing next to it with the figures of Joseph and Mary riding a donkey, traveling to Bethlehem. I looked at it and immediately said to myself, “That’s seems familiar to me,” and I wondered what the connection was. And then it dawned on me, it was a banner that Ilene had made and given to Good Shepherd as a gift many years ago. I nudged her and as we turned to face one another she said, “I think I made that.” I said, “You did, and they are still using it during Advent.” How wonderful. It felt good to be home again. And I said to myself, “Thank you God, for welcoming us so lovingly into your house.”
We began to worship with you on Sunday mornings and think of ourselves as new members. Ilene wanted to find a ministry at Good Shepherd where she could use the gifts that God has given to her. Every Sunday we would sit and prepare for worship while admiring the beautiful worship space. The light streaming down from the windows above was marvelous. The banners and paraments filling the space while giving glory to God were beautiful. The banners high overhead were glorious. We knew that they were mostly created by Jan Kimosh who dyes her own fabric to create her beautiful art for God.
As weeks went by, Ilene began to remember the period in her life when she created all my stoles that I would need as a pastor after ordination. She began to wonder if she could give another gift like that to the church and asked if there was a need for any paraments. She learned that there was a need for a set of red paraments to be used only two times a year for Pentecost and Reformation Sunday. Ilene was thrilled with the news and promptly took up the task to create them.
My only role was to help by offering ideas and the drawings that would point to the Holy Spirit and Her role in the life of God’s people. As a pastor it felt good to be rummaging around the Bible again looking for the Holy Spirt to direct and guide my work. (This is when I totally agree with Pastor Tim, that the name Wild Goose, is right up there with the Holy Ghost as an appropriate name for the Spirit of God.) Even as God’s children we still struggle to understand just what the Spirit wants from us. Somehow the path is rarely straight forward. It twists and turns until you feel like you are trying to catch a wild goose. This project has been like that.
For my inspiration I went back to the biblical texts that feed our thoughts about the feast day of Pentecost. The clearest view were Luke’s memories of the day’s events which he told in his second volume, Acts of the Apostles.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.”
I have always loved how Luke’s words slide off our tongues when reading them and immediately take on a visual image in our minds. It is that image that we have tried to portray in the altar frontal. There you find the Spirit of God pictured as a dove and showering his blessings on God’s people in the rush of a violent wind and tongues of fire. You see it again in the pastor’s stole where you see the Spirit showering his gifts on us as we respond to Christ’s work in our world.
When Ilene began this project, she took the time to visit with Jan Kimosh to discuss her ideas. Before they parted, Jan gave some pieces of her hand dyed red silk to Ilene. That fabric can be seen most clearly in the lectern paraments but is also found in all the red colored flames on the other banners.
Things were going well until the very end when things began to happen out of the ordinary. There was trouble with Ilene’s machine. There was trouble just controlling the volume of fabric that was being fed through her sewing machine and still sew a straight seam. To her it seemed as if the devil was trying his best to thwart all her efforts to complete the project on time for Pentecost. She then called on the Spirit to help her. “Help me,” she said, “to use your gifts to the best of my ability to bring glory to God here at Good Shepherd. Wrap your cloak around me and send your angels to protect me from the work of the devil.” That evening she spoke with her friend Kim Sweet who immediately said that she would love to help. For two nights this week, Ilene and Kim have worked late into the night to construct the one for the altar parament. Last Sunday evening, when it seemed most hopeless, she ran into Laura Prill after the Peace worship service. Ilene stopped to talk to her and told her what was going on. She asked Laura if she would ask her prayer group to pray for protection from the work of the devil. Laura agreed to make the calls, and in the end with the help of the Spirt and many people of God the project was completed.
Our prayer is that God will use these gifts to touch the heart and mind of old and new seekers who wander into this space on a Pentecost morning and have their heart opened to God.